Byte Me Article 149 – Clouds not as clever as they look

Clouds Not as Clever as they Look

Over the last few weeks we talked about the now MORE real possibility of losing all of your important data due to recently emerging Internet threats.  During these discussions we were always talking about the traditional IT model of storing your own data on your own PC or your own server.  The only solutions to avoid a catastrophe here were to either have a good backup system that encrypted your data and provided many days’ worth of restorable backup points – or to stay off the Internet altogether!

This week we look at the ‘relatively’ new model of storing all of your data in the cloud.  There are many ‘cloud’ based storage solutions available now and with the introduction of both Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office 365 these solutions have never enjoyed so much media hype and the resulting popularity.  Do they keep your documents safe and what do I think of them?

In short I am not a fan of cloud computing at all for the majority of businesses.  There have been some great claims surrounding moving to the cloud but again in the overall scheme of computing models the cloud solution is still very green and so some of these claims are more myth than fact.  We have ourselves joined many customers up to the cloud – mostly at their own insistence and for some business structures it does work very well.  However, I have also seen many limitations in these installations as well as the opportunity for many future problems.

2013-11-02 Byte Me Article 149- Cloud Security

One of the claims of cloud computing is a reduction in the cost of IT support – myth!  The customers we have seen move to the cloud have experienced higher than normal costs due to the complexity of migrating data to this solution and making it work.  Some customers are horrified at the cost of first moving to the cloud and secondly maintaining this computing model.  In all cases the customer feels like they have less control over their own data and less control of costs.

The cloud claims that all of your data is backed up – not totally correct.  There may be multiple clouds around the world that are a duplicate of each other however this is only effective at reducing the problem of an entire cloud disappearing (there is another one the same to take its place).  On the other hand, if ONE of your important files disappears because it was accidently deleted then it is also deleted from all of these duplicate clouds!

In the case of Office 365 – if you accidently delete a file then you have 30 days to realise and restore it from the ‘recycle bin’ or it is gone forever.  Alternatively if you change a file and need a previous ‘version’ then you will have needed to have turned ‘versioning’ on and configured it correctly to keep a certain number of versions of your current file – or once again you don’t really have a backup.

This last point is especially relevant to the recent Cryptolocker Ransomware threat!  If you are using Office 365 and do not have versioning turned on and configured then having Cryptolocker infect your PC will end in a catastrophe – all of your cloud based data would be rendered useless and irretrievable.

Unfortunately when new technologies are released and especially technologies that have the ability to return squillions of dollars to their creators – some of the shortfalls of a ‘relatively green’ solution are overlooked in favour of fluffy advertising campaigns to promote the new offering – and people are suckered in!

Nothing about the cloud is any less ‘cloudy’ to the average computer user or business owner and expected benefits like a PROPER backup system still don’t just happen for cloud users.  Once again there seems to be a giant technology gap between the programmers / creators of these technologies and the average users that still leaves us (an IT support company) in very high demand! 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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